Health care form

earlyApril 15, 2012

When my mother in law entered the nursing home they had her fill out a power of attorney for health care naming me as the agent. She checked the box stating that the she wanted her life to be prolonged no matter what. I could not disagree with her at the time because of other family members present. 5 years have passed and we all agree that that was a mistake on her part. I truly believe that she did not understand what she was signing. Can anyone tell me how to get that changed if possible?

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lascatx

Is she competent to execute a new directive? If so, she can get a new form from the home or you can get a new one for her and she can sign it. She always has the right to change her mind about her own care. Requirements may vary by state, so if you go in the internet to get a form, make sure it is for the state where she resides and that you get it witnessed or notarized, if required.

Does anyone have a medical power of attorney for her? Is that you -- as the agent? If she is not competent and cannot meaningfully sign a legal document on her own behalf, I would talk to the folks at the nursing home as well as her doctor to see whether they would take direction from you as agent over the written form she signed. If not, you may need to talk to an attorney. Hope it isn't that difficult for you.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 11:28PM
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asolo

Excuse me.....total six family members present at the time of signing....and NOW, you say, they all agree she did not understand what she was signing? A bit shakey, that. Surely sounds like self-interested hind-sight to me. But you don't have to convince me. You have to convince the medical professionals that will be giving or withholding care when the time comes....and THEY will have that document in-hand. You may trust me when I tell you that if/when comparing your instructions to them against their patient's signed document, they'll go with the patient's signed document every time.

Change? She can change it....if she's competent to do so. Otherwise, no. Except....

As attorney-in-fact -- if that's what you meant by "agent" named in health care power of attorney document -- you may have authority to direct/act on your own if/when some crucial decision-time arises. However, assuming the home has a document-copy on file, you may well encounter opposition from them at the crucial moment...which I suspect is exactly what you want to avoid. Do not guess at this. Find out.

If your MiL is not competent to sign/amend, you're pretty much hosed that way. Only other alternative is to become absolutely familiar with your powers as attorney-in-fact....including how to go about asserting such power if/when challenged.

From your post, you're obviously adrift. Get a copy of the document, pay an attorney for an hour of their time, and have this explained to you so that you understand what can be done and what cannot be done. Might take two hours. Get it done.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 11:36PM
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agnespuffin

For the elderly, the end may be very near in spite of everything. There is a limit to what can be done to prolong life.

But one thing to think long and hard about is whether or not there is one little spark of understanding in that mind. She may still prefer to hang on as long as possible in spite of her condition.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 12:12AM
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sushipup1

"For the elderly, the end may be very near in spite of everything. There is a limit to what can be done to prolong life.

But one thing to think long and hard about is whether or not there is one little spark of understanding in that mind. She may still prefer to hang on as long as possible in spite of her condition. "

For many (or most) people, this is a religious ethical dilemma. So do you take that into consideration? If the patient had a firm belief that she wanted to stay alive, where does an agent stand to change that deeply held belief?

I am not a religious person myself, but I deal with many people who are, and I fear to tread on their beliefs.

But the real truth is that humans who are that close to death can rarely be kept alive by even the most desperate of measures. You say that 5 years have passed.... has her health come to a crisis? If not, then you might be jumping the gun somewhat.

Are you talking about removing feeding tubes? Ventilators?

Have a talk with both the nursing home social worker, and also call in a hospice service for consultation. I suspect that you need to have a more immediate consult than a bunch of strangers on the internet can provide. There's good help available to you.

And above all, take care of yourself.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 12:25AM
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jannie

Power of Attorney is a legal term having to do with finances. A Health Care Proxy is more for medical issues, like continuing medical care. My husband and I signed HCPs naming each other and our 2 daughters as alternates. We indicated we want medical treatment only if there's hope for improvement, but if we are in irreversible comas let us go without pain. I agree, talk with a Social Worker about this. She may not have been of sound mine when she made her original decision on this.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 8:41AM
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